Within the marketing departments of the world's leading consumer brands, the jury is still out on the value of buying branded keywords such as "MasterCard" or "Sony." A quick search on Google tells the story: Five out of the 10 top brands are not buying their own branded keywords.
From our experience working with brands we commonly hear the following reasons for why branded terms have not been purchased:
- "We are already in the number one slot in the natural search results, so why waste the money?"
- "We have not integrated search into all of our marketing campaigns."
- "We believe other companies should not be allowed to bid on our branded terms, so we take the same approach."
- "We have not given it much thought."
Five reasons to buy
1. Your competition will.
It makes good sense to be readily visible when your customers or prospects are looking for you. In addition, defending your customers from the clutches of your competitors is always a smart move.
2. Consumer behavior.
With 50 percent-plus of internet traffic originating from search engines, this phenomenon is more than using search for navigation or convenience. Search engines display a wider range of options for the consumer to view and provide different angles to take action. Go to Yahoo and make a search for "Special K"; you will see a Special K logo and a video within the ad purchased by Kellogg. These types of innovative search experiences have only begun.
3. More control.
You can control the landing page, key messages and the URL that is displayed to the consumer. By controlling the messages and keeping them in synch with your advertising and public relations campaigns, search becomes fuel for brand building.
4. Branded keywords make your offline and other forms of online advertising campaigns more effective.
For example, when Visa runs a television commercial for Verified by Visa, consumers will turn to search engines first to learn more. In the marketer's ideal world, every customer would see an advertisement and type in the URL for product or service, but consumers have different ideas.
5. More conversions come from branded terms.
Consumers using branded terms have already done their homework and are declaring their level of interest by their searches. For example, a consumer searching for "cameras" or "digital cameras" is just starting her research. A branded search for "canon digital cameras" indicates that the consumer is further along in the purchase process. Below is real-world performance data from one of our retail campaigns where the branded keywords are providing 776 percent higher CTR (clickthrough rate), 75 percent lower CPC (cost-per-click) and 126 percent higher conversion rate compared to a campaign using non branded keywords.
Five tips: branded keyword optimization techniques
Because statistics show that more conversions come from branded terms, it makes good business sense to optimize those branded campaigns as much as possible. Below are some of the techniques we use:
1. Optimize your ad targeting to get traffic where you can get better CTR & conversion rates.This means running granular campaigns, taking advantage of the targeting capabilities that ad networks provide. Targeting includes: geographic, location, day of week, time of day, demographic and more. Our search data indicate that campaigns using such targeting enjoy substantial performance lift compared to a campaign that does not.
2. Optimize your creatives to increase the CTR and land the user on the highest converting, most relevant landing page. By running various creative and landing page combinations you will discover which creative performs best and which landing page is the best compliment. For the creatives you should:
- Have a strong offer (Buy one get one free, free trial)
- Use "Best of…" if you have third-party endorsements
- Say Official Site if you have affiliates or competitors for your brand name
- Vary the creatives over time
- Find the most popular product or service to pitch
3. Optimize your landing pages, making sure you have a close coupling of ad creative messaging and landing page content. Google's quality score essentially enforces this concept to ensure the user has a positive experience from click to destination.
4. Keep your affiliates off your branded keywords. We recommend:
- Clearly outlining search marketing in the affiliate program rules
- Monitoring twice a week
- Pulling affiliates that do not comply
- Giving them a good Cost Per Acquisition offer, but no branded terms
5. Use technology. You can implement many of the techniques described above manually but it can be challenging. There are advanced technology tools available, which will help you be more successful in less time.
From our experience, we highly recommend bidding on branded keywords. Use the comment section below to share your own experiences, successes and challenges with running branded campaigns.